The Ahn Trio performs Chiel Meijering

Born in Seoul, Korea and educated at the Juilliard in New York City, the members of the Ahn Trio, (cellist Maria, pianist Lucia, and violinist Angella), are constantly redefining the art and architecture of chamber music. Breathing new life into the standard piano-trio literature with commissioned works from visionary composers such as Michael Nyman, Maurice Jarre, Pat Metheny, Paul Schoenfield, Mark O’ Connor, Kenji Bunch, Nikolai Kapustin, and Paul Chihara, the Ahn Trio brings a new energy and excitement to the chamber music world. The trio’s latest CD, “Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac” (released by Sony), is a showcase of this vibrant and original music, which made No. 8 on the Billboard Charts for 26 weeks in the Classical album category…   

Chiel Meijering’s ‘Candybox‘ has been arranged for several ensembles and performed frequently. The Matangi Quartet, the Spark Ensemble and other ensembles. Now the famous Ahn Trio will perform this work three times

The trio has been touring successfully for over ten years and have six albums to date. Their first album, a recording of Ravel and Villa-Lobos trios brought rave reviews, with Audio Magazine praising “this is one of Ravel’s best and never better played”. The next EMI recording of trios by Dvorak, Suk, and Shostakovich, won Germany’s prestigious ECHO Award. An MTV appearance on Bryan Adams’ “Unplugged” led to the development of the “Ahn- Plugged” and “Groovebox” albums (EMI), which embodies the excitement and energy of the Ahn Trio. Seeking complete artistic freedom, the trio formed their own production company named L.A.M.P., (Lucia Angella Maria Productions), which self-produced “Lullaby For My Favorite Insomniac”. Their latest project was a joint album with the Czech Grammy-winning Tata Bojs called “Smetana” (Warner).

Maria, Lucia and Angella thrive on dissolving the barriers between art forms. They have fused their work with that of dancers, pop singers, DJ’s, painters, installation artists, photographers, lighting designers, ecologists, and even kite makers. The Ahns enjoyed their successful collaboration with the David Parsons Dance Company, which toured extensively to critical acclaim. More recently, they performed in the Czech Republic with rock group the Tata Bojs to sold-out shows. This year, the Trio is very excited to add to their repertoire “March of the Gypsy Fiddler”, a Triple Concerto written for them by Mark O’Connor. The Ahns frequently enjoy having guest artists join them on stage, recent favorites include the Kin, a two-brother rock band from Australia, as well as electronic music artist Juno a.k.a Superdrive from Berlin. It is precisely this vitality and commitment to innovation that has Ahn Trio continually drawing new audiences to classical music.

Possessing an enviable combination of talent and style, they have long been natural subjects for the international press. They made their magazine premiere very early on, in Time’s cover story, ‘Asian American Whiz Kids’. Since then, they have gone on to frequent fashion pages of the likes of Vogue and GQ, photographed by such luminary photographers as Arthur Elgort, Ellen von Unwerth, and Walter Chin, and been featured in ad campaigns for GAP, Anne Klein and Bodyshop, among others. In 2003, they were named three of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.

The Ahn Trio is in high demand, performing and leading master classes and workshops across the United States and around the world. Whether they are playing in Vienna’s Musikverein, New York’s Lincoln Center, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Beijing’s Concert Hall, Istanbul’s Aya Irini in Topkapi Palace, or for 10,000 screaming fans at the World Music Festival in the Czech Republic, they share their innovative spirit and ever-evolving vision of music.

More info about the concerts


Interview with Lina Tonia

Composer Lina Tonia on the quest for uniqueness and going beyond Greek borders. Lina is a young award winning composer born in Greece, in 1985. Her work list includes more than 100 compositions for orchestra, ensembles, operas and music for theatre that performed in Paris, Vienna, London, New York, Boston, Moscow, Weimar, Berlin, Edinburgh, Zagreb, Sofia, Plovdiv, Tirana, Athens and Thessaloniki. She has been awarded prizes in several national and international composition competitions for her works. Among others, she received the first prize at Jungerson International Composition Competition in Moscow (2007), the Baerenreiter Award at the 12th International Via Nova Composition Competition in Weimar (2010), the title of “New Young Artist of the Year” from the Union of Greek Critics for Music and Theatre in Athens (2010)….   

She studied composition at the Department of Music in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2003 – 2008), with Professor Christos Samaras. She completed a PhD in Composition in Edinburgh University with distinction (2008 – 2012) under the supervision of the professor Nigel Osborne and Michael Edwards, where she was studying with a Greek National Scholarship from Union of Greek Composers (2008 – 2009) and IKY Foundation (2009 – 2011). She studied composition with Michael Jarrell at the Vienna University (2012 – 2013). She worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Music Theory & Composition with a fellowship of the Research Committee of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2013 – 2014). She participated in many international composition workshops in USA, UK, Germany, France. She was also selected to participate at Manifeste Academy for young composers at IRCAM with Toshio Hosokawa, in Paris (2017).

Some of her works are published by Sconfinarte Editions under a pedagogical goal about contemporary music for young performers. Now, her works are publishing by Donemus Publishing House based in Hague.

Lina Tonia is founding member and artistic director of Meet the Art, artistic series of concerts and performances around Modern Art in Thessaloniki (2015 – 2016). She is teaching Composition and Aural Skills in Macedonia University, Department of Music Art and Science, in Thessaloniki from September of 2016. She gives lectures and seminars about composition and contemporary music. She is a jury member at ENKOR International Music Competition from 2014. She is a member of Greek Composer’s Union.

Lina Tonia talked to Greek News Agenda* about her artistic choices as a composer, stressing her quest for a unique way of expression, as uniqueness is the basis of evolution in art. Asked about the difficulties to endeavour in an international setting, she underlines that Greek musical tradition is less associated with contemporary music in comparison with the tradition of German or Austrian composers.

What prompted you to choose the composition of this kind of music?

The need to look for a new world of sounds in which nothing had been formulated in the same way in the past. The composer carries within him the responsibility of a creator, which makes him a “mastermind” of uniqueness. To this very need of a search for uniqueness, we also owe the evolution not only of music but also of art in general.

Many of your works have been awarded and have been performed all over the world, beyond Greek borders. How easy is it for Greek composers to present their work abroad?

I believe that the recognition of an artist or a scientist at a global level is the result of continuous and fully committed hard work in his field. In art and especially music, which involves a variety of aesthetical issues, it is not easy to endeavor in an international setting, even more so for us Greeks whose musical tradition is less associated with contemporary music (I mean the evolution of classical music) in comparison with the tradition of German or Austrian composers.

Do you think success at an early age encourages an artist creatively?

I feel it confirms the correct direction of the artist’s course and creates incentives.

The titles of your projects seem to prepare the listener for what he will hear. Do you consider your music “programme music” and, if not, to what extent can a non-musical factor influence you and how does it penetrate your musical discourse?

I do not consider my work “programme music”. As I have already mentioned, music has the power to introduce us into an unexplored world in which each person gives his own dimensions. This fact, combined with imagination, has often prompted me to use an extraneous element but perhaps also an unrealistic event to translate an unknown sound into my thoughts, such as the image of a sea of lava on the surface of the moon. Other times I am concerned about the relationship that links numbers or geometric shapes with the organization of my musical thinking, but all these are just things that create occasions.

What do you like to incorporate into your projects? Do you think a Greek element exists in your music, and if there is, how easy is it to recognize it through this kind of music?

The Greek element I feel is evident in my music mainly from the drama that characterizes it. I do not think about what I need to incorporate into my works. The musical speech I have developed almost guides me blindly. The Greeks have the fate of experiences from the nature of our country that are difficult to interpret or integrate into the perception of other peoples. The clear sky, the whiteness of the houses alongside blue waters, a carved stone, are all that inspire us consciously or unconsciously, and they guide us to share in every way the Greek light.

* Interview by Sophia Christaki and Ilias Iordanidis.

Read the original article at the Greek News Agenda

The art of Andriessen with Lann, Padding

Sound and stimulation are set to “on” at this new-music series Sunday afternoons at The Appel Room, overlooking Central Park. The series kicks off with “Going Dutch,” a closer look at the rebellious spirit of Louis Andriessen and the composers he mentored, hosted and curated by Nadia Sirota, and featuring Jaap van Zweden conducting Andriessen’s Symphony for Open Strings….   

The New York Philharmonic will present The Art of Andriessen, October 4–14, 2018, celebrating Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s Dutch compatriot Louis Andriessen, the third recipient of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic. The Art of Andriessen will feature the World Premiere of Louis Andriessen’s Agamemnon, commissioned upon his receipt of the Kravis Prize for New Music; Mr. Andriessen’s TAO; music by Mr. Andriessen, his students, and more on the Philharmonic’s two new-music series; the US Premiere of MUTED at National Sawdust; and The Juilliard School’s AXIOM ensemble performing Mr. Andriessen’s De Staat.

The Art of Andriessen will inaugurate the GROW @ Annenberg Sound ON series on October 7, 2018, with “Going Dutch.” The program will highlight the Netherlands new-music scene with music by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen and his former students: Louis Andriessen’s Image de Moreau, Hout, and Symphony for Open Strings, the last conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden; Dutch composer MartijnPadding’s Mordants; and the New York Premiere of The Key to the Fourteenth Vision by Vanessa Lann.

More info about the concert

Urban Songs – Klas Torstensson

On October 3rd the DoelenEnsemble with conductor Arie van Beek and with soprano Charlotte Riedijk, will perform three works of Klas Torstensson in De Doelen. Pocket Size Violin Concerto, Sieben mal NEO for septet (Dutch première) and Urban Songs for soprano and large ensemble. At 19.15 Neil Wallace will have a conversation with Klas Torstensson and some musicians…   

As a composer, I feel attracted to writing series – or ‘families’ – of compositions, a method which enables me to concentrate, over a longer period of time, on a specific problem or on a specific definition of a problem. An example is my triptych Licks & Brains for saxophones and ensemble (1987-88). In the case of Urban songs, for soprano, large ensemble and computers, the ‘family’ is small; apart from this piece, the only other ‘family member’ is a composition for soprano solo, Urban solo (also written for Charlotte Riedijk). The traditional Lebanese folksong Abu Zeluf – as sung by the Lebanese singer Dunya Yunis – could perhaps also be considered as a part of this ‘family’; Urban Solo, as well as Urban Songs (first song), were partly inspired by this folksong. The song itself, however, is not quoted; similarities are rather to be found in certain kinds of ornamentation, and in the speech-sounds that are used (stripped of their semantic meaning!). Where the first part (song) could – in spite of the title of the composition – in some ways be called ‘rural’, the second part (song) is definitely ‘urban’ in character. It not only refers to an urban style of music (no one can probably fail to notice which kind of music is meant), but also the ‘montage’-like structure would be unthinkable without modern urban technologies such as the technique of sampling.
(Klas Torstensson)

Read the article (Dutch) by Huib Ramaer
(or download the full program with this article here)

Klas Torstensson is in het Zweedse Nässjö geboren. Zijn muziek leeft volop dankzij ensembles die hem op handen dragen in Zweden, Nederland en andere windstreken. De uitvoeringsgeschiedenis van de door het Doelen Ensemble uitgevoerde stukken getuigt van het internationale succes van zijn muziek. Maarten van Veen zit met de partituren op schoot aan de telefoon. Hij heeft al een aantal repetities gedirigeerd. Het Doelen ensemble is goed voorbereid op de directie door Arie van Beek. ‘Klas was zijn tijd een behoorlijk eind vooruit’, is zijn conclusie. ‘Deze muziek staat als een huis en Urban Songs klinkt ook helemaal niet als typisch jaren negentig.’ Hij schetst hoe Torstensson een grote secunde als een dobbelsteen almaar rond gooit door het ensemble en dankzij een zeer gedetailleerde zetting van allemaal kleine stukjes toch een verhaal weet te maken. ‘Hij zoekt het heel bewust in de klank van elk instrument.’ Kreeg hij nog een erratum van de componist. Bleek Torstensson de puls in een behoorlijk snel crescendo een halve tel te hebben verplaatst. ‘Doe ik het op de repetitie, denk ik: verdomme hij heeft wèl gelijk!’ Geen noot is toevallig, ‘het is groot vakmanschap’. Wat complex klinkt blijkt soepel speelbaar. ‘Het is gewoon heel goed opgeschreven.’ 

Voorjaar 2010 kon je in Amsterdam de première beleven van Torstenssons Vioolconcert voor Jennifer Koh en het Nieuw Ensemble. De compacte kamermuziekversie waar solist Jellantsje de Vries zich hier op werpt is een opdracht van het Zweedse ensemble The peärls before swïne experience, met steun van Rikskonserter in Zweden en het Fonds Podiumkunsten in Nederland. Ruige gestes met glissando’s worden afgezet tegen een lyrisch herkenningsmotief. ‘In de verte doet het denken aan Zweedse volksmuziek, of laat mijn geheugen me in de steek?’, vergroot Torstensson het raadsel. Gestuiter en razendsnel kat en muisspel tussen solist en ensemble, wisselt zich af met wonderschone klankkleuren. Aardse en hemelse sferen, grondige klanken en ijle kwetsbaarheid, het klassiek dualisme lijkt hier tot in alle dimensies te zijn uitgepuurd. Verstilling volgt in het tweede deel, heel 

ruimtelijk, met subtiele verwijzingen naar archaïsche volksmuziek. Het thema is ontleend aan Le dolci parole uit In grosser Sehnsucht waar de sopraan het zingt met schaarse begeleiding van de viool op de losse g-snaar. Het derde deel opent viool solo. Akkoorden en uitbundige streken op open snaren refereren aan dansante fiddle-muziek. In hinkstapsprong herhaalde loopjes grijpen terug naar de opening. Subtiel slagwerk geeft deze vitale finale schwung.

Pocket Violin Concerto is opgedragen aan de Zweeds-Amerikaanse musicus George Kentros, violist in The peärls before swïne experience. 

Drie jaar later ontstond Sieben mal sieben voor het European Ensemble. De tweede versie is aangepast aan de zeven musici van het kamermuziekensemble Norrbotten  NEO dat zich sinds 2007 hard maakt voor nieuwe muziek in Zweden. Het is die versie waarvan het Doelen Ensemble hier de allereerste Nederlandse lezing geeft. De strijkers zijn gebleven. Het coloriet van mandoline en gitaar heeft plaatsgemaakt voor de klanken van piano en slagwerk. Naast klarinetten is er nu ook een breed palet fluiten. De iconische egg shakers zijn verhuisd van gitarist naar percussionist. Werd er in het ad libitum tussenspel in de versie voor het European Ensemble geklopt op mandoline en gitaar, hier klinkt vrije percussie op kast en binnenkant van de concertvleugel en houten of met vel bespannen slagwerk. Structurele kantelpunten zijn de solo’s. De klarinet neemt het voortouw met een fascinerende solo pivoterend rond een trillerfiguur. Een solo voor viool mondt uit in een steeds soepeler swingend betoog met kinky baslicks en speelse levensvreugde. Opwinding slaat om naar verstilling en reflectie. Ragfijn vertakt zich het weefsel en grijpt het ensemble steeds meer in. We horen speels herhaalde beats en loopjes – slank als bebop – leiden schijnbaar argeloos naar het bedrieglijk eenvoudige luchtige slot. 

Als keerpunt in zijn oeuvre ziet Torstensson zijn Expeditionen waarvoor de poolexpeditie van Salomon August Andrée uit 1897 hem het dramatisch materiaal leverde. Deze grootschalige opera van ruim twee uur werd voor het eerst (concertant) uitgevoerd op 12 juni 1999 in het Amsterdams Concertgebouw. Andrée en zijn mannen kozen 11 juli 1897 vanaf de noordelijke eilandengroep Spitsbergen het luchtruim in hun ballon. Ze keerden nimmer terug. Stoffelijke resten werden augustus 1930 aangetroffen op Kvitøya, het meest oostelijke eiland van Spitsbergen. Dagboekaantekeningen liepen door tot 7 oktober 1897. Bij de opa van Klas stonden ze in de boekenkast. Hij verslond het avontuur al toen hij een jaar of tien was. Ruim dertig jaar later stolde de essentie ervan in muziek met The Last Diary voor recitant en groot ensemble uit 1994. Urban Songs voor de sopraan Charlotte Riedijk is een voorloper daarvan. Het was een tijd waarin het spectrum van zijn componeren zich geleidelijk verwijdde. Toelating van tonaliteit bleek cruciaal voor de expressie van emoties. Na instrumentale stukken waarin hij in de jaren tachtig de grenzen van het materiaal zocht in fysieke extremen, luidden vocale verkenningen deze nieuwe fase in. 

Opdrachtgever voor Urban Songs was het IRCAM, de ondergrondse tempel voor nieuwe muziek van Boulez. Enkele maanden verbleef hij in de catacomben. Terwijl zijn buurman esoterisch bezig was via allerlei berekeningen een strijkerspizzicato na te bootsen, zat Torstensson hits van vrouwelijke rapgroepen uit New York te samplen. Kabaal als van een omvallend drumstel. Eerste vrucht was Urban Solo, een solostuk voor sopraan waarvoor hij in Parijs de elektronica ontwierp. Urbans Songs is de latere uitwerking daarvan voor sopraan, groot ensemble en computers. De tegenstelling tussen een ruraal en een urbaan getint deel bepaalt het tweeluik. Hij ontdekte een Libanees volksliedje, Abu Zeluf (vader Zeloef), op een plaat met antropologische veldopname. De melodie en spraakklanken raakten hem onmiddellijk. Het wilde ze uitsluitend gebruiken als klankmateriaal, analyseerde het lied, rangschikte de elementen en plaatste ze in volgorde naar zijn zin. Het eindresultaat was ‘een imitatie van een soort namaaktaal, gebaseerd op een Libanees bergdialect’. De fatwa tegen de schrijver Salman Rushdie na publicatie van diens Duivelsverzen vers in het geheugen, wilde hij checken of er niet per abuis iets blasfemisch in doorklonk. In een Libanees restaurant in de Amsterdamse Pijp droeg hij het voor. ‘Ze snapte er niks van, toen dacht ik: nou dan zit ik goed.’ 

Het summum van software en computertechnologie op het IRCAM heette destijds MAX. De handleiding maande de grenzen van het programma op te zoeken. De aansporing bevatte poëtische wendingen als ‘Hit the limits of the usual.’ Ideaal materiaal voor het urbane deel. Nog beter: kreten en tekstflarden uit hits van vrouwelijke rapgroepen, rond 1990 populair in New York. De rapgroepen van die tijd namen graag flarden mee van bekende nummers, James Brown, Kate Bush of Michael Jackson. ‘Toen dacht ik, zou het niet conceptueel interessant zijn die rapgroepen op hun beurt te bestelen?’ Een intro van The Beatles bleek te zijn gebruikt voor een rap. Hij besloot het te samplen, de kickdrum en de snaredrum te ontleden en er vervolgens in het IRCAM weer een geheel van te smeden. Het werd de intro van het tweede deel. Charlotte Riedijk gaf op 25 februari 1993 de vuurdoop in het Centre Pompidou met het Ensemble Intercontemporain onder leiding van David Robertson. Het dankbare stuk bleef er nog lang op de lessenaars staan en werd snel opgepikt door andere ensembles.
(Huib Ramaer)

More info about the concert

Urban Songs at Donemus

Calliope Tsoupaki – Salto di Saffo

To depict the sea, Greek-Dutch composer Calliope Tsoupaki will evoke the same forces that Debussy did with his La mer, but adding recorder and panflute to the orchestra. This commission Tsoupaki has got from famous concert sereis ZaterdagMatinee. ‘Salto di Saffo’ will get its world premiere on October 6th by the Radio Philharmonics Orchestra under Markus Stenz with as soloists Erik Bosgraaf, recorder, and Matthijs Koene, panpipe…   

“I identify with the sea”, Calliope Tsoupaki said in the Trouw newspaper last summer. In the same interview, the Greek-Dutch composer tells journalist Frederike Berntsen that her first memories of the sea go back to her baby years. Tsoupaki saw the light of day in Piraeus, the port of Athens. The former composition student of Louis Andriessen has lived in the Netherlands for thirty years, but both her oeuvre and her personal life are dominated by her Greek identity. Just like in her extensive oratorio Oidípous (2014) she takes a story from Greek antiquity as her starting point in her brand-new composition Salto di Saffo. This time it is poet Sappho, who according to a legend in the Ionian Sea would have deposited on the southern tip of the island of Lefkas. Her ill-fated leap (‘salto’ in Italian) from a rock would be motivated by heartbreak: her love for the young ferryman Phaon was not answered.
Calliope Tsoupaki has an autobiographical link with the rock in question at Cape Lefkatas: “As a young person in my twenties, I sailed along on the ship that brought me to the Netherlands for the first time. As a young composer, I wanted to show my work to Louis Andriessen, in the hope of being able to study with him. It was at night. Everything was dark, I only saw the lighthouse. I liked to mirror Sappho, I thought of everything I left behind and had to cry hard. Salto di Saffo is in this respect one of my musical self-portraits, just like Sappho’s Tears- then already – from 1990 and Medea from 1996. Incidentally, the title Salto di Saffo in does not refer to the jump itself, but to the place where it happened. The name sounds much better in Italian than in Greek. Moreover, Italy is on the other side of the Ionian Sea. ”

Salto di Saffo, a commission from the ZaterdagMatinee, is a double concerto for alto recorder and panpipe. That this last instrument, at least in its European version, dates from ancient Greece, is nicely included. It is the second time in a short time that Tsoupaki has put two wind instruments into dialogue with an orchestra. At the recent Holland Festival, the Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh and jazz trumpet player Eric Vloeimans held the partly improvisational Tragouditen baptism, together with the Metropole Orkest. Sounded Tragoud mainly melancholic and introverted, in Salto di Saffo contrasts and fighting spirit are prominently present. The composition is based on antiphony, a principle of question and answer. Motifs travel from orchestra to soloists and back, or alternately sound with the alto recorder and panpipes. The soloists occasionally use micro-intervals to express the tone expressively.
Most musical lines are made up of long notes, in the spirit of the cantus firmus of the Middle Ages and of Byzantine church music, which is a permanent source of inspiration for Tsoupaki. In addition to these long melodies, there are also fast note waves in the orchestra, which the composer calls ‘harmonic clouds’. For her, Salto di Saffo in is technically a daring piece: “I did a long time for my doing, because I was looking for a new method to color the melody with other sounds. If all goes well, as a listener you experience contrasts between the different layers, but at the same time, you feel that everything is made of the same material. With a visual metaphor, you can say that one eye looks at slow-moving film images, while your other eye sees that the time is fast, forward and backward. Maybe a bit schizophrenic, but I think that fits in with the evocative power of the subject. ”

More info about the concert

Tsoupaki’s page at Donemus

Salto di Saffo at the Donemus webshop